UAS debates faculty summer salary rate reduction

Kristine Mullendore, Chair of University Academic Senate

Eric Coulter

Kristine Mullendore, Chair of University Academic Senate

Anya Zentmeyer

The University Academic Senate met Friday afternoon to discuss a proposal that would reduce faculty summer compensation beginning in 2012 in an effort to reallocate the savings to base pay for faculty at Grand Valley State University.

Kristine Mullendore, chair of the UAS, said the teaching schedule affected by the proposition includes extra semesters outside of normal academic year expectations for those faculty on nine month-contracts. These semesters are outside of what is covered by base pay and benefits.

Currently, faculty members teaching one three-credit summer course receive 12.5 percent of base salary with no floor or ceiling amount. Under the proposal, the same faculty members will only receive 10 percent of the base salary with a floor of $6,000 and a ceiling of $10,000.

Mullendore said the administration reports that adopting this proposal would result in almost $1 million in savings, which would produce funds that would be reallocated to faculty base pay – separate from any annual salary adjustment that might result in an increased faculty base salary.

Provost Gayle Davis said there has been some discord among faculty, inevitably raised out of having something that was once there taken away. Though summer teaching isn’t necessarily part of their contracts, Davis said many teachers use the opportunity to make extra income.

“I was hoping to help the UAS understand the need for not only cuts but also sometimes reallocation of resources at a time like this of flat or decreasing revenues for the university,” she said. “There are always conflicting views when you are collectively making decisions on priorities of one need over another.”

Davis said summer salaries at GVSU tie with some of the highest in the state.

“This is the beginning of the discussion and in this current economic time these discussion are a fact of life,” Mullendore said. “I would encourage any faculty members who are concerned to contact their faculty representation.”

Both Mullendore and Davis said the university is not considering layoffs, furloughs or program closures like many other universities, but are simply looking for new ways to be more cost effective in the face of Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget cuts.

“Just like with anyone and their employment they are concerned with a fair and competitive salary,” said Jarrett Martus, Student Senate president. “The university is also dealing with decreased revenue and trying to balance everything out. I know in the end this will come to a solid agreement that will benefit the faculty and university as a whole.”

Martus said without plans to eliminate classes, increase class sizes or cut faculty or services to students, the proposal will in no way have an effect on the student body.

Without being able to rely on the State as much as years past, Davis said the university is thinking of alternative plans and trying to make smart, albeit difficult, decisions about the future.

“My plan moving forward is to work with FSBC and the larger Senate to look at our options and priorities so that we can do the very best for Grand Valley with the resources we have,” she said.

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